Microsoft Loses Battle Against i4i in the Supreme Court
In a judgment that will not be well-received by heavyweights in the tech industry, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the software giant in the closely watched Microsoft vs. i4i case, rejecting Microsoft’s argument to lower the evidentiary requirement to nullify a patent.
The decision solidified the existing precedent and left the 28-year-old standard intact, which is applied by the Federal Circuit in patent infringement cases. It also upheld the $290 million judgment against Microsoft won by the small Toronto-based i4i software outfit in Texas’ Easter District.
According to the decision that Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the Court, “Congress specified the applicable standard of proof in 1952 when it codified the common-law presumption of patent validity. Since then, it has allowed the Federal Circuit’s correct interpretation of §282 to stand. Any recalibration of the standard of proof remains in its hands.”
Appearing on behalf of Microsoft is Thomas G. Hungar, a partner in the Washington DC law office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, while arguing for i4i is Seth Waxman, a partner in the Washington DC office of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Microsoft was represented at trial before the Federal Circuit Court by Weil, Gotshal & Manges. The company i4i was represented McKool Smith at the trial and by Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The software giant, along with hard-hitting amici like Apple, Verizon, Hp and Google, had pushed for the adoption in patent cases of a lower preponderance standard, arguing that higher standard protected “bad patents” from challenges as to their validity.
The Obama administration has backed i4i, which threw a caveat in the air saying that a lower standard could potentially allow juries to easily reverse the wisdom of the PTO experts.